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How Sleep and Anxiety are Interconnected

We’ve all gone to bed at a reasonable time with the best of intentions to get an incredible night’s sleep. Instead we’re met with tossing and turning, accelerated heartbeat, and frustration. Anxiety has ruined many potential nights for great sleep. But is anxiety the problem, or is it a symptom? Sleep and anxiety are more interconnected than we think. 

If you’ve ever repeatedly checked your phone throughout the night watching the hours pass, only to be met with more anxiety about the lost sleep “if i fall asleep now I will get 5 hour…” then you might understand this intensity

After a sleepless night the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex (which is associated with emotional regulation and our ability to de-escalate anxiety) can completely shut down. Leaving our mind and body’s in overtime to regulate stress, and if you’re already anxious to begin with, your existing stressors may seem intensified.

So if deep sleep is critical to reduce anxiety, how does an anxious person get good sleep? 

Don’t worry, there are solutions, first and foremost routine and structure…

Set boundaries with yourself
If you find yourself scrolling mindlessly on TikTok until 12 a.m., it might be time to commit to making small adjustments in your bedtime routine, i.e. put your phone out of reach, or set yourself time limits when using your phone in bed.

Watch your screen time in general
Phones, TV, laptops, etc. Screen time within a two-hour window of bed can seriously disrupt our body’s ability to produce melatonin naturally. 

Commit to a better sleep schedule
Have a plan, set alarms, write it down! It becomes much harder to ignore a commitment we’ve made to ourselves when we’re getting constant reminders about it.

Use tools to help
Essential oils/diffusers are great. Scents like chamomile and lavender offer great relaxation benefits. 

Because sleep and anxiety are so interconnected, we must treat sleep as highly as we treat all other areas of our health and fitness.